JUSTICE minister Mutula Kilonzo has revealed that the government is preparing a law that will govern how the wealth of Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta wealth and MP William Ruto could be used to compensate victims of post election violence. Under the international law, the wealth of persons convicted by ICC should be used to compensate victims but Kenya currently lacks legislation to govern such compensations and reparations.
Mutula told the Star that his ministry, the Office of the Vice President, the Attorney General and the Constitution Implementation Commission are presently drafting a Bill covering compensation for the PEV victims.
The office of the VP is involved because it is in charge of prisons and correctional facilities in the country. “The ICC registrar has demanded assurances about the assets of some of the suspects in the Hague, partly because when a person is convicted of international crime, the compensation or reparation does not just come from individual suspects, they also derive authority from assets from the persons who have been convicted,” said Mutula.
Uhuru, Ruto, Public Service head Francis Muthaura, Tinderet MP Henry Kosgey, former Police commissioner Maj Gen Hussein Ali and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang are awaiting a ruling by ICC Trial Chamber on whether they will be charged in connection with the 2008 post election violence. The ruling is expected next month or early January.
Recently, the ICC formally wrote to the Kenya government requesting it to stop suspects from transferring their assets to third parties until the cases at the Hague are concluded. The ICC wants the government to place caveats on all movable and immovable property belonging to the Ocampo Six so that they cannot transfer or hide their property.
Mutula added that the proposed law will provide clear mechanisms for identifying genuine victims of PEV and the compensation required. “We do not have express legislation governing how to determine whether someone is an IDP, the extent of his problem, and if at all how to handle him,” he said. “It is not enough to talk just about housing. Some people were running businesses, some had shops, others had residential housing and commercial properties for leasing and letting, and others were tenants in buildings,” added the minister.
“Suppose a child lost a mother, or father, how do you compensate them? You may take the responsibility of their education. If it is a minor child like those traumatized in Naivasha or Kiambaa church and you give them money, it will end up in the hands of uncles or relatives who might abuse it. Compensation in my view as a ministry will take a format that will ensure it is real compensation and not just superficial,” he said.
In April, the Star exclusively reported that the ICC was quietly tracing and profiling the assets of the suspects worth Sh 20 billion, mainly belonging to one suspect. The ICC used different asset tracing companies to track down money being moved around countries by two suspects.
According to the Rome Statute, once a suspect has been summoned or a warrant of arrest issued, the ICC Judges have powers to freeze the assets and accounts of suspects as a “protective” measure in case the suspect is convicted and fined. Once the suspect is convicted, the judges issue an order to transfer of such assets into the Victims’ Trust Fund for disbursement to victims as reparations. But if the suspect is found innocent, the court is obliged to unfreeze the assets.
Mutula said that the provisions of the Rome Statute not withstanding, the new constitution still requires Kenya to enact a law to govern compensations of victims. “I haven’t met anybody in government who thinks that victims should not be compensated or given reparations. The only thing lacking is legal infrastructure to do so,” he added.
The Justice minister said the government has primarily been looking at those who were evicted from their land. He said it would not be possible to compensate all Kenyans who suffered during the PEV. “I am not aware of any currency since the Pharaohs that would be able to buy back that short history of December 2007 to March 2008,” said Mutula. He said the government was waiting for ICC ruling before deciding on what other steps to take.